New social enterprises set to flourish

Chris gray of well fed scotland

Chris Gray of Well Fed Scotland

Seven social entrepreneurs from across the country have been announced as the latest participants in LaunchMe, the social enterprise accelerator

3rd April 2019 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Innovative social enterprises across Scotland have gained a funding boost.

Seven social entrepreneurs from across the country have been announced as the latest participants in LaunchMe, Scotland’s social enterprise accelerator.

The start-ups selected include a skin and healthcare products company; a gardening service; a community café and catering company; a photography agency; a walking tour company; a cleaning agency and a community centre in Argyll & Bute.

Delivered by Firstport, Scotland’s social enterprise start-up agency, LaunchMe supports ambitious social enterprises to achieve scale, by getting them investment ready and directly connecting them with investors looking for social as well as financial returns. In addition to initial seed funding, selected participants have the opportunity to apply for grant funding as co-investment to match any private investment they secure during the programme. 

LaunchMe is supported by the Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Barclays bank. Previous participants include well-known social enterprises such as Locavore, Scotland’s first social enterprise supermarket; retailer the Scottish Design Exchange; and sandwich-shop chain Social Bite.

Josiah Lockhart, chief executive of Firstport, said: “The seven selected enterprises have been working hard over the last few months to prove they have what it takes to realise their commercial and social impact potential. In the coming months, we will support them to get investment ready and connect them with our pool of social investors, so they can gain the capital they need to achieve their plans.

“LaunchMe has already helped secure over £1million from private investors and the interest in this type of investment continues to rise. We cannot wait to see what these participants go on to achieve.”

Aileen Campbell, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government, said: “Our partnership with Firstport provides economic benefit through start-up social enterprises, and also a sense of pride and place for local communities. Social entrepreneurs, such as the seven participating in the next LaunchMe programme, are essential to building more resilient, connected communities where people can feel valued.

“We will continue to support and encourage this vital lifeline to some of the most vulnerable in society - transforming lives and helping people reach their potential.”

Well-Fed is a successful social enterprise based in Whiteinch in the west of Glasgow, led by social entrepreneurs Chris Gray and Claire Lilley. It operates a community café, takeaway, home delivery service, and a commercial catering service.

Based in one of the most deprived areas in Scotland, Well-Fed is not only a thriving business, but it is also tackling food poverty and social isolation, promoting integration and providing the local community with a warm and welcoming environment from which they can socialise and enjoy healthy and nutritious food.

Having identified a second site in Parkhead and with their sights set to become a sector leader and one of Scotland’s top social enterprises, Well-Fed applied to LaunchMe to gain the support and capital needed to achieve their growth aspirations. Through the programme, they are looking to raise £400,000 in combined investment and funding which, coupled with an asset transfer from the local authority, will allow them to open a state of the art catering facility capable of meeting their growing commercial catering business needs, tender for and acquire larger and higher value corporate catering contracts as well as explore new markets.

Since launching in May 2017, Well-Fed has provided over 4000 free meals to children and 3000 free meals to their families as part of their holiday hunger initiative, alongside educational and recreational activities.

Gray, executive director of Well-Fed, said: “Our community café at Whiteinch welcomes an average of 600 visitors each week and as such we have made real tangible progress in tackling social isolation and have witnessed first-hand a strengthening in the social cohesion of the community. 

“Whilst traditionally food poverty affected those with limited financial means, this is no longer the case, we also see that social isolation and a lack of social mobility can affect people of all genders, races, beliefs, and cultures. Well-Fed welcomes all to our community café and we have created an ethos of the café truly belonging to the community.

“This is a very exciting time for us. Gaining a place on LaunchMe and being in the process of opening a second site in Parkhead, we are gearing ourselves up towards growth and replicating our success within Parkhead and beyond.”